~ Park Rangers Association of California

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PRAC Honorary Lifetime Member 1988

Thomas A. "Smitty" Smith


Professor Smith was selcted for outstanding service to the Ranger Profession and the Park Rangers Association of California. He was a founding member of PRAC and its second president. He is alco recognized for instituting joint conferences and publications with the California State Park Rangers Association, and for distinguished volunteer efforts all part of a dedicated career of public service.


Autobiographical Sketch: Born in South Bend Indiana and educated at Purdue University and hold a graduate degree from Indiana University. I first taught at Glendale Arizona High School where I taught biology and was the head track coach. While there I was a founding father of the Arizona Track Coaches Association and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1999. I moved from there to San Jose City College as their track coach and three years later to West Valley College when it opened.


John Nicholas and I started the Park Management Program in 1960 and I was the Coordinator for many years. During my tenure there. I began the Ranger Training Academy at West Valley and as a result WVC became the Mecca for in-service training for the western states. People traveled from as far as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada to attend training that was held for rangers, naturalists, and maintenance people.


I was the Director for 11 years of the Region 5 National Forest Recreation Academy which was held each year at West Valley. This training gained some renown as people from the Washington office attended and then used the Academy as a model for two other colleges on the east coast. When I retired, almost 500 people had attended in-service training at West Valley in some manner or another, some several times!


While I was at WVC the College became the model for a program to privatize the running of campground in Region 5 for the Forest Service. It was a successful program that now has expanded to the entire nation. The College ran the campgrounds for 10 years until just after I retired.


I worked as a seasonal ranger for county parks and for the National Park Service in Yosemite, where I was a horse patrol ranger in Tuolumne Meadows. I am a graduate of the Horace Albright Training Center, Grand Canyon, in Park Operations and the Santa Rosa Criminal Justice Training Center (National Park Service Training). I taught conflict management and communications there each session for two years.


I am an Eagle Scout, as are my four sons and one grandson! In a unique situation I was "borrowed" from the College to Santa Clara County as their Acting Director in 1981. I have continued to work for the County in special projects, and am presently helping to write their first natural resources management plan. I retired from west valley in 1991, but spent the next ten years as a lecturer in park resources at San Jose State University.


PRAC is proud to present the 1988 Honorary Lifetime Member award to Professor Thomas Smith.